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How to Flavor Recipes on a Low FODMAP Diet

March 25, 2024
Courtesy of Eat Beautiful

Irritable bowel syndrome and other gut issues can feel a bit like tiptoeing through a minefield, with constant anxiety about potential tummy troubles (and occasionally explosive bathroom experiences). That’s where the low FODMAP diet comes in — it’s life-changing for many people struggling with IBS and other gut health issues, helping to uncover hidden trigger foods that might be upsetting digestion.

The biggest challenge with low-FODMAP eating is that the list of elimination foods can get lengthy — and tricky in the kitchen, with culinary classics like onions and garlic off the menu. But after 10 years and countless trial-and-error dishes, I’ve found a few key ingredients that can help you inject a ton of flavor without the digestive distress. 

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The lowdown on low FODMAP

So what is a FODMAP? In short, FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.  After the small intestine, the unabsorbed FODMAPS then travel to the large intestine, where they become food for gut bacteria. The bacteria go to town on their new supply of fiber and sugars. FODMAPS are poorly absorbed by most people, but for people with IBS, this process causes problems including bloating, gas, nausea, cramping, and general discomfort. The sequel is even worse, with diarrhea or constipation to follow. 

“FODMAP” is an acronym, standing for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols

At its core, the low-FODMAP diet is all about finding what works for your gut and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. To follow it, you eliminate major trigger foods (high FODMAP) and then reintroduce them one at a time to determine your personal sensitivities. 

Low-FODMAP foods include bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, maple sugar and table sugar, most types of lettuce, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini, gluten-free bread, gluten-free pasta, potato and corn chips, quinoa, almonds, peanuts, mozzarella, cheddar, feta, and other hard cheeses. 

High-FODMAP foods include apples, cherries, watermelon, peaches, asparagus, artichoke, mushrooms, cauliflower, avocado, chickpeas, fennel, beets, wheat, rye, spelt, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, onion, and garlic. 

Cooking without onions and garlic (it’s possible, I promise!)  

While it may not be a big challenge to avoid things like high-fructose corn syrup and xylitol, some of the other high-FODMAPS were whole foods that I would’ve never guessed were culprits. I was shocked to realize I had been unintentionally making my life so much worse. Onions and garlic are among the biggest offenders, and they’re in so many dishes. I had to completely rethink food and ingredients. 

To get the aromatic punch of onions and garlic without the bellyaches, for example, certified holistic nutritionist and certified gut specialist Jamie Maitland recommends replacing it with equally punchy flavors. “Look for rich umami flavors [in ingredients] such as miso,” says Maitland. “A homemade miso dressing with scallions and bone broth drizzled over a lean piece of protein is not only nutrient-dense, but full of flavor.” And as long as you only use the dark green part of the scallions, it’s low-FODMAP.  

A low-FODMAP shopping list

Here are a few other brands, products, and ingredients that have become staples in my low-FODMAP kitchen. 

Products and brands:

  • Asafetida Powder

This spice, used in Indian cuisine, can mimic the pungent, savory depth of onions and garlic. It also can help aid digestion. Just a heads-up: It’s potent, so start small.

Buy it: Asafetida Powder, $12 for a 3.75-ounce jar 

  • Gourmend ingredients

The founder of this brand also struggled with stomach problems. After discovering the low-FODMAP diet as a solution, he set out to create his own cooking ingredients that were low in FODMAPs but still high in flavor. Gourmend’s line includes delicious low-FODMAP broths, salts, seasonings, and spices.
Buy it: Gourmand ingredients, prices vary

  • FODY Foods

Another gut-friendly brand, FODY Foods sells sauces, marinades, condiments, dressings, and other kitchen staples that are low in FODMAPs and always free of onions and garlic. It’s a great option for pantry staples that you can trust to be gentle on the gut.
Buy it: FODY Foods, prices vary

  • Casa de Sante 

This low-FODMAP brand was founded by a physician-scientist and former pharmaceutical executive. Along with low-FODMAP snacks, protein powders, and spices, Casa de Sante offers probiotics, supplements, and dietitian-created food plans for people on low FODMAP, the specific carbohydrate diet, the autoimmune protocol diet, and more.
Buy it: Casa de Sante, prices vary


  • Chives

Though they’re part of the allium family, related to onions and garlic, chives add a gentle, oniony flavor without the FODMAP fallout. Chop and sprinkle them on finished dishes for a bright dash of flavor.

  • Garlic-infused oil

Get all the garlicky goodness without the grief. Since FODMAPs don’t mix with oil, you can infuse oil with garlic flavor and not suffer any fallout. To make it, place your oil of choice in a skillet or small saucepan and add a few whole cloves of peeled garlic (you can lightly smash the cloves, if you like). Warm the oil for a few minutes until hot but not boiling, then remove from the heat and let it cool. Strain out the garlic, transfer to a jar, cover and refrigerate.

  • Leek greens

Just as scallion greens are low-FODMAP, so are the top dark greens of leeks. They can add a subtle, sweet onion-like flavor to roasts, soups and sautés. Just be sure to stick to the dark green part — the white bulb and light green pieces can be high in FODMAPs.  

More resources

For more information about the low-FODMAP diet, including certified low-FODMAP foods and recipes, training courses, and more, I recommend exploring content from Monash University in Australia, the preeminent authority and original creator of the low-FODMAP diet. 

Read next: The 8 Best New Low-FODMAP Foods on the Market

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